NBA star Steph Curry has revealed he talked to the league’s commissioner Adam Silver over the punishment given to disgraced Phoenix Suns and Mercury owner Robert Sarver.
Sarver was handed a one-year ban and $10million fine by the NBA following a league investigation into racism, sexism and bullying allegations.
The NBA revealed it found that Sarver used the N-word on at least five occasions among other transgressions, including the use of language and conduct demeaning to female employees, over his nearly two-decade tenure as owner of the NBA’s Suns and WNBA’s Mercury.
‘[I] got [Silver’s] point of view of what decisions and, I guess, mechanisms he had to intervene and bring down a punishment that was worthy of the actions that we were all responding to and representing the league as a whole and protecting the integrity of the league and the standard that we set terms of from execs, ownership, all the way down to players,’ the Golden State Warriors star told reporters Sunday.
‘There should be a standard around what’s tolerable and what’s not.’
Golden State Warriors’ Steph Curry (L) spoke privately with NBA commissioner Adam Silver (R)
The pair discussed the one-year ban and $10million fine given to club owner Robert Sarver
Sarver announced last week he wants to sell the Phoenix franchise and has started the process of giving up both the Suns and Mercury.
‘I think the outcome was exactly what should have happened,’ Curry added.
‘Honestly, I thought with the punishment that was handed down, it would have dragged out a little longer, but I’m glad we got to a point where hopefully the team is up for sale sooner than later and can kind of move on knowing that’s where it should be.’
The National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) called for Sarver to be banned for life. Executive director Tamika Tremaglio told ESPN she was speaking on behalf of NBA players in saying they were ‘absolutely calling for’ a lifetime ban.
While Suns minority owner Jahm Najafi had called on Sarver to resign and owner and Phoenix’s jersey sponsor – PayPal – said they would not continue to sponsor the Suns if Sarver returned.
Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James was among several NBA stars, including Chris Paul and Draymond Green, who slammed the one-year suspension amid calls for a tougher punishment.
In addition to saying the N-word, Sarver is also accused of using language and engaging in conduct demeaning to female employees, according to the NBA statement (pictured)
Sarver, a real estate developer reportedly worth $850m, denied or disputed nearly all of the claims in the original ESPN report last year. Earlier this month, he offered an apology (pictured)
A member of Sarver’s own team, Phoenix Suns Guard Chris Paul, said he was left ‘horrified and disappointed’ by the report on Sarver’s conduct as he slammed the NBA’s sanctions as insufficient.
Paul took to Twitter to hit out at the sanctions, believing that Sarver should have faced a harsher punishment.
James hit out at the NBA for their handling of the situation as he insisted there is no place for ‘that kind of behavior’ in the league.
On Twitter he posted: ‘Read through the Sarver stories a few times now. I gotta be honest… Our league definitely got this wrong. I don’t need to explain why.
He posted: ‘Like many others, I reviewed the report. I was and am horrified and disappointed by what I read. This conduct especially towards women is unacceptable and must never be repeated.
Sarver announced last week he wants to sell the Phoenix franchise and has started process
LeBron James insisted there is no place for ‘that kind of behavior’ in the league
‘I am of the view that the sanctions fell short in truly addressing what we can all agree was atrocious behavior. My heart goes out to all of the people that were affected.’
Meanwhile, Golden State Warriors star Green called for NBA owners to vote to determine whether Sarver should be removed as Suns’ majority owner as he labeled his punishment ‘bulls***’.
Curry was full of praise for his rivals who spoke out, he said: ‘The top players who have vested interests in protecting the league as well, all that stuff matters, and you want to have swift responses and reactions to stuff like that.’
The law firm that spent nearly a year digging into the situation determined Sarver’s use of slurs ‘was not motivated by racial animus.’
Chris Paul hit out at the sanctions, believing Sarver should have faced a harsher punishment
Had that not been the case, Silver indicated, Sarver’s punishment would have been far more severe.
Sarver bought the franchise for $401million in 2004 – an NBA record at the time – and Forbes now values the Suns, who appeared in the 2021 NBA Finals, at $1.8billion.
The NBA suspended and fined Sarver after an investigation corroborated an ESPN report alleging Sarver used racist language, made sex-related comments to and about women, and mistreated employees.
‘The statements and conduct described in the findings of the independent investigation are troubling and disappointing,’ Silver said.
‘We believe the outcome is the right one, taking into account all the facts, circumstances and context brought to light by the comprehensive investigation of this 18-year period.’
Although witnesses claimed to have heard Sarver use the racist slur, the investigation found that he was either repeating the N-word or purporting to do so. The NBA did not find that Sarver used the term ‘with the intent to demean or denigrate.’
Golden State Warriors power forward Draymond Green has called for a players vote to decide if Sarver should be forced into selling the Arizona franchise
In a statement released last Wednesday, Sarver said: ‘Words that I deeply regret now overshadow nearly two decades of building organizations that brought people together – and strengthened the Phoenix area – through the unifying power of professional men’s and women’s basketball.
‘As a man of faith, I believe in atonement and the path to forgiveness. I expected that the commissioner’s one-year suspension would provide the time for me to focus, make amends and remove my personal controversy from the teams that I and so many fans love.
‘But in our current unforgiving climate, it has become painfully clear that that is no longer possible – that whatever good I have done, or could still do, is outweighed by things I have said in the past. For those reasons, I am beginning the process of seeking buyers for the Suns and Mercury.
‘I do not want to be a distraction to these two teams and the fine people who work so hard to bring the joy and excitement of basketball to fans around the world. I want what’s best for these two organizations, the players, the employees, the fans, the community, my fellow owners, the NBA and the WNBA. This is the best course of action for everyone.
Silver said there were key distinctions between Sarver’s case and the one surrounding then-Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling (left) in 2014
‘In the meantime, I will continue to work on becoming a better person, and continuing to support the community in meaningful ways. Thank you for continuing to root for the Suns and the Mercury, embracing the power that sports has to bring us together.’
NBA commissioner Adam Silver released a statement shortly after that read: ‘I fully support the decision by Robert Sarver to sell the Phoenix Suns and Mercury. This is the right next step for the organization and community.’
The NBA rules state that in order for an owner to be removed, it needs three-quarters of its board of governors to agree to start the process. Last week, commissioner Silver made it clear that he cannot act alone on ‘the right to take away his team,’ referring to Sarver, in a press conference.
Sarver’s case has drawn comparisons to that of former Clippers owner Donald Sterling, who was banned for life and fined $2.5m for racist comments in 2014.
Sterling was forced to sell the Los Angeles franchise for $2bn to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer after 33 years of ownership. Sterling sued the NBA in 2014 for $1bn but after a two-and-a-half-year legal battle the suit was settled in 2016 in order to allow Ballmer’s purchase of the Clippers to go through.